; 20080514 Accomack Comp Plan Chap 6
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20080514 Accomack Comp Plan Chap 6


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									Chapter Six: Future Land Use Plan                                                  Adopted May 14, 2008

                                             Chapter 6
                                      Future Land Use Plan

Respecting the Past, Creating the Future: The Accomack County Comprehensive Plan                    6-1
Chapter Six: Future Land Use Plan                                                  Adopted May 14, 2008

                                             Chapter 6
                                      Future Land Use Plan


This chapter describes the kinds, locations and intensities of land uses recommended for
Accomack County. The purpose of the land use plan is to act as a guide for the Accomack
County Board of Supervisors, the Planning Commission, other governmental bodies and the
private sector as they make decisions that affect the county’s physical pattern of
development. The plan arises from the goals, objectives and policies stated in Chapter Five.
Capabilities of the county’s natural environment and the capacity of the public services
system to support development are reflected in the plan.

This chapter contains three parts: the first is a review of the population projections found in
Chapter Three and identification of growth areas. The second is a written narrative
describing important planning issues and the key concepts of the plan. The third is the Future
Land Use Map for the County.

Population Projections/Growth Indicators:

A profile of past population trends and future population projections for Accomack County is
found in Chapter Three, Inventory – The Developed Environment. This population profile
indicates that Accomack County’s population has increased slowly but steadily in recent
years from about 31,700 in 1990 to about 34,500 in the year 2000, and to approximately
36,000 in 2005, based upon recent county trend growth rates (0.8% annually). The County’s
population is predicted to continue to increase, to 43,800 by 2030 at current trends, or up to
52,300 at the statewide trend growth rate (1.4% annually).

Accomack County’s growth can be attributed to an in-migration of population, which offsets
the fact that mortalities annually exceed the rate of natural increase. This in-migration of
new residents to the County and an aging existing housing stock (48% built prior to 1970)
are consistent with trends prior to the 1997 plan. In 1996, it appeared that those trends were
responsible for an annual increase in new housing that was about three times that of the
population increase (2% annual housing increase, 0.6% annual population increase).
However, during the 1990’s, housing increased at about the same rate as population, as
would be typically expected. (Yet, the percentage of houses older than 30 years actually
increased one percent, although was off-set somewhat by the percentage of houses less than
10 years in age increasing by two percent). The population per household has also remained
steady during the decade between the 1990 and 2000 censuses.

Still, anecdotal evidence and larger societal trends would indicate that Accomack will be
attractive to retirees in the baby boom generation. As improvements in telecommunications
technology enable more workers to live farther from there main place of work (economists call it
the “distributed work force”) increasing numbers of working adults are likely to choose
Accomack County. Based on these factors, the County should prepare for the possibility of

Respecting the Past, Creating the Future: The Accomack County Comprehensive Plan                    6-2
Chapter Six: Future Land Use Plan                                                  Adopted May 14, 2008

growth exceeding current population forecasts.

The majority of residential subdivision activity and new home construction in recent years
has occurred in the southern Bayside (Occohannock to Onancock Creek) and northern
Seaside (Wachapreague north) portions of the County. Commercial activity has been mostly
concentrated in the Accomac-Onley-Onancock area, the industrial park, and scattered along
Route 13. Two developments in the 1990s that can be expected to influence future
commercial activity are the designation of parts of Accomack County as an Enterprise Zone
and progress towards the development of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at Wallops
Island. The Enterprise Zone designation and development of the Mid-Atlantic Regional
Spaceport and Wallops Research Park can be expected to lead to increased commercial and
industrial development in the southern portion of the County (including the industrial park)
and the Wallops Island/Wattsville areas respectively.

Land Demand:

The population projections for the County show a need to accommodate between 7,000 and
15,000 additional people during the next 25 years, depending on whether the growth rate is
as forecast by the Virginia Employment Commission (less than 1 % annually), or whether the
trend growth rate increases to the statewide rate (about 1.4 % annually).

The amount of land needed to accommodate these potential future population increases
depends on how much land is allocated or required per dwelling unit. This will depend in
part on decisions made by landowners and developers, and in part on County policy for
rezoning approvals, zoning and subdivision regulations, market demand, and provision of
central water and wastewater treatment capacity.

Based on current policies and regulations, it is reasonable to assume that the overall average
amount of land needed for new residential development would fall within a range from one
acre per dwelling unit to three acres per dwelling unit, depending upon the variables listed

In projecting future residential land demand, as shown in the following table, it is assumed
that 75% of new residential growth occurs in urban (town and village) areas and thus is more
compact, with an average gross density of one acre per dwelling.

Respecting the Past, Creating the Future: The Accomack County Comprehensive Plan                    6-3
Chapter Six: Future Land Use Plan                                                    Adopted May 14, 2008

                           Projected Future Residential Land Demand
                          (based upon County’s corrections to 2000 U. S. Census)

                                                      Trend Forecast               “Trend Plus” Forecast
                                                      (avg. 0.8% annual)           (avg. 1.4% annual)
 Basic Data:
 Population 2030                                      43,800 people                52,300 people
 Population increase                                  7,900 new people             15,300 new people
 Additional Dwellings                                 3,160 new dwellings          6,120 new dwellings
 (at 2.5 people per household)

 Estimated Allocation (urban v. rural):
 Assume Moderately Compact Growth Pattern             75% “urban”                  75% “urban”
                                                      (25% rural, not              (25% rural, not counted
                                                      counted in this total)       in this total)

 Additional acres needed (at avg. of 1.0 du/ac gross) 2,370 total acres            4,590 total acres

 Additional acres to be designated in Village
 Development Areas (two times the specific
 forecast)                                            4,740 total acres            9,180 total acres
                                         (rounded) 5,000 acres                     9,000 acres


Future residential dwellings in the rural, agricultural areas (Agricultural “A” District) are not shown in
these calculations because most of the County is already zoned for such development, and it will occur
“by-right” in response to market demand and landowner inclinations. (25% of future residential
development is assumed to be in the rural/agricultural areas, which assumes a successful effort on the
part of the County to attract growth to the designated village areas). The lure of the coastal areas for
waterfront development, both in harbor villages and in agricultural areas, is sure to persist, and
increase over time. Absent significant incentives to attract residential development to the vicinity of
existing towns and villages, further amendments to the Agricultural Districts may be necessary to direct
growth to areas prescribed in this plan.

These calculations do not distinguish between in-town and out-of-town residential development. It is
assumed that at least a small portion of future residential development will occur within the
incorporated towns, but no specific estimate is made of that percentage for these calculations.

Major Land Use Planning Issues:

Several key issues directly affect planning for Accomack County land use. These issues address
the relationship between land development and the County’s resources. These issues include
agricultural and forestry land preservation, groundwater protection, natural resource
preservation, physical constraints to development, central water and wastewater treatment, the
character of development, and the Route 13 highway corridor – all in the context of continuing
population growth.

Respecting the Past, Creating the Future: The Accomack County Comprehensive Plan                         6-4
Chapter Six: Future Land Use Plan                                                  Adopted May 14, 2008

Agricultural and Forestal Land Preservation: Agriculture and forestry are important parts of
Accomack County’s economy and identity. In 1997 the County had approximately 82,560 acres
of land in 22 agricultural and forestal districts. In 2007, the acreage was 80,215, nearly a 2.8
percent decrease in ten years. The land in these districts is protected by state “right-to-farm”
legislation which prohibits local governments from restricting agricultural uses within the
districts. These districts also offer protection from conversion to other non-agricultural and non-
forestal uses and interference from surrounding uses.

The pattern of development within the County can directly impact the viability of agricultural
operations. Some of the most productive agricultural soils are also the most suitable for
installation of septic systems. Therefore, agriculture is often in direct competition with residential
development for land with prime soils. Much of the County’s farmland also occupies land that
would be desirable locations for waterfront home sites. Accomack County currently offers land
use-value taxation on agricultural land, which bases taxes on the actual use of the land, rather than
the fair-market value. This removes some of the pressure for land owners to develop agricultural
land, although farm land continues to be subdivided and converted to residential use. This division
of land results in pockets of residential development located in primarily agricultural areas.
Fragmentation of farm land can affect a farm’s viability, leaving tracts of land too small or
segmented to farm efficiently. Conflicts often arise between home owners and farm operators over
noise, dust, smell, chemical use, and hours of operation. The 2006 Agricultural Zoning District
amendments allow clustering of residential development and provide the opportunity to buffer new
residential development from intensive agricultural activity.

Groundwater Protection: Groundwater is the only drinking water source for Accomack County.
In 1976 the Virginia State Water Control Board designated the Eastern Shore as a Ground Water
Management Area due to findings of groundwater level declines, well interference and localized
groundwater contamination. Groundwater is supplied by the Columbia and the Yorktown-
Eastover aquifers. The Columbia is a shallow unconfined aquifer with water quality generally
not suitable for drinking, but suitable for irrigation and some manufacturing uses. The deeper,
confined, Yorktown-Eastover aquifer is the county’s drinking water source. This aquifer is
recharged by rainwater infiltration. The 1992 Ground Water Supply Protection and Management
Plan for the Eastern Shore of Virginia identified the area that recharges the deep aquifer as strip
of land that runs along the central portion of the peninsula. The Plan calls for protection of this
groundwater recharge spine from contamination threats and decrease in recharge rate due to
creation of imperious surfaces. In 1997, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
designated the fresh ground water that supplies all drinking water on the Eastern Shore of
Virginia as the Columbia and Yorktown-Eastover Multiaquifer System Sole Source Aquifer.
The 1999 Technical Analysis and Justification for Ground Water Ordinances on the Eastern
Shore of Virginia documents the need to manage new development to protect our limited supply
of ground water.

Natural Resource Preservation: The County’s natural resources base, including forests, fields,
marsh, creeks, bays, and barrier islands, has economic, aesthetic, and recreational value, as well
as being valuable habitat for a variety of wildlife. High quality surface water is important to the
seafood industry and recreational users. The marshes and bays support aquatic life that is
important to the development of fisheries. Good soils are essential for productive agriculture.
The barrier islands provide important habitat for shorebirds and recreational opportunities for

Respecting the Past, Creating the Future: The Accomack County Comprehensive Plan                    6-5
Chapter Six: Future Land Use Plan                                                  Adopted May 14, 2008

residents and visitors. These resources, in combination, compose a natural system which is a
unique asset to the Eastern Shore. Care must be taken to ensure that use of these resources does
not degrade their value. Land that is not suitable for development, such as marsh land and the
barrier islands, should be maintained in a natural state. Important habitat areas should be
identified and the conservation of those areas encouraged. Best Management Practices should be
used to lessen the impact of various land uses on natural resources.

Physical Constraints to Development: Certain conditions of the physical landscape affect the
suitability, safety and desirability of parts of the County for development. The main physical
constraints to development in Accomack County are soil suitability for septic systems, flood
hazard, and shoreline erosion. The distribution of soils types has profound impact on the pattern
of development in Accomack County. The Town of Onancock and Tangier Island are the only
areas in the county served by public sewage treatment systems. Since less than half of the soil in
Accomack County is suitable for septic system use, large sections of the county are virtually

Some areas of Accomack County experience significant amounts of shoreline erosion. Faced
with an eroding shoreline that moves closer to their home each year, homeowners often resort to
shoreline hardening structures such as bulkheads, riprap, breakwaters, and jetties. These
structures are seldom permanent solutions to the problem and can actually increase the problem.
The areas of Accomack County with the highest erosion rates are Bayside marshland and the
Seaside barrier islands, which are unsuitable for development. The impact in areas with
moderate to low erosion rates can be lessened through limited allowable development densities
and shoreline setback requirements.

The Route 13 Corridor: The Route 13 highway corridor is a significant feature of the County’s
landscape. The highway runs north-south along a ridge of high land in the center of the
peninsula, dividing the Shore into “Bayside” and “Seaside” segments. The highway carries
traffic through the County, supporting businesses along the highway, and it carries local citizens
up and down the Shore to employment, shopping and services, many of which are located within
the corridor. This mix of local and through-traffic creates a dangerous situation. Traffic lights
added on developed sections of the road to increase safety decrease the efficiency of the road for
through-traffic. Route 13 is a major thoroughfare and part of the National Highway System. If
signals increase to the point that highway no longer functions effectively for through traffic,
bypass and limited access alternatives may be sought. The Route 13 corridor should be managed
to maintain its capacity to handle through-traffic in order to avoid construction of bypasses or a
limited access highway which would further bisect the county and isolate existing businesses.
Minimum setbacks from Route 13 should be expanded for all land uses. Increased setbacks will
promote safety by improving site lines, allow room for shared entrances, reduce traffic noise, and
ensure the availability of vacant land if future access roads are needed. In order to maintain the
existing high speed sections of Route 13, future development should be limited to existing
commercial centers such as T’s Corner, Temperanceville, Nelsonia, Fisher’s Corner at Route
176, Accomac, Onley, Melfa, Painter, and Belle Haven. These areas already have traffic signals
and reduced speed limits to handle local traffic. Site plan review for development along Route
13 should be used to develop plans that minimize curb cuts, make use of joint entrances, and
direct traffic to alternative entrances on collector roads when possible.

Respecting the Past, Creating the Future: The Accomack County Comprehensive Plan                    6-6
Chapter Six: Future Land Use Plan                                                  Adopted May 14, 2008

Central Water and Wastewater Treatment:

The prospects for achieving a compact, traditional growth pattern that protects agricultural and
environmental resources will be greatly increased if central water and wastewater facilities are
available to more areas, in concert with the overall future land use plan. These systems could be
County systems, Town systems, private systems, or some combination of these, including a new
entity such as a service authority. The County will pursue the development of such systems in
locations that are consistent with the Future Land Use Map.

Wastewater treatment systems must be compatible with the surrounding environmental resources
in terms of potential impact on groundwater and surface water quality, must be relatively small
in size to be consistent with the County’s traditional land use pattern as reflected in the Future
Land Use Map, must have financing and management structures that ensure long-term viability,
and must be funded mainly by the users of the system.

Broad Constraints versus Site-Specific Constraints:

The various important constraints to development in the County, such as poor soils for septic
systems, and Agricultural and Forestal Districts (AFDs) can be viewed from two perspectives:
1) Broad constraints that apply generally to a large area
2) Site-Specific constraints that vary in intensity within the bounds of a specific tract of land or
   smaller area.

Land use policies should provide guidance for both of these perspectives. Areas with severe and
consistent constraints should have generally restrictive policies applied to them (for example
discouraging rezonings and infrastructure expansions), whereas areas with variable constraints in
which some sites or portions of sites have few constraints while others nearby have severe
constraints, could have more permissive policies. Further, some areas have inherent conflicts
between opportunities and constraints, such as portions of the Route 13 corridor that fall within
the spine groundwater recharge area. In these cases, site-specific policies may be applied that
allow for some development while simultaneously ensuring that some land is also protected.

In general, the greater the constraints to development a property has, as shown on the land use
analysis maps of this plan, the greater the restrictions the County will impose for on-site
development of the property.

Character of development (traditional patterns, human scale, pedestrian access, etc.)
Many of the county’s community development and preservation goals can be achieved or enhanced
if new development occurs in a compact, traditional pattern, similar to the pattern that exists in the
County’s existing historic towns and villages. This pattern would feature generally interconnected
street networks, mixed uses in the core areas, relatively narrow neighborhood streets, a variety of
lot sizes and building sizes, generally deep lots, a variety of front setbacks in residential
neighborhoods, and houses typically featuring sitting porches as the most prominent element of the
front facade, rather than garage doors. This concept is particularly important and relevant in the
expansion areas of existing towns and villages, such as around Onancock and Onley.

Respecting the Past, Creating the Future: The Accomack County Comprehensive Plan                    6-7
Chapter Six: Future Land Use Plan                                                  Adopted May 14, 2008

Future Land Use Analysis - Opportunities and Constraints:

McHarg Analysis. Accomack County is located on a narrow peninsula, with various
environmental and public facility resource constraints that have a generally linear overall
pattern. This geography lends itself to a “McHarg” analysis of land use opportunities and
constraints. This type of analysis is named after its inventor, the planner and landscape
architect, Ian McHarg, author of the classic planning book Design With Nature.
In this type of analysis, the major kinds of opportunities and constraints for human settlement
are mapped. The maps are then overlaid on top of one another. When combined together
into a single, multi-layer map, these overlays visually indicate the variations in levels of
constraints for development between various areas. The resulting map shows the most
suitable areas for future development.
This process was carried out in October, 2006, using the County’s Geographic Information
System data. The key factors or data layers that were incorporated into the McHarg layers as
constraints and opportunities were the following and mapped in gray tones:

•   Agricultural and Forestal Districts (AFD)
•   Coastal Buffer (1/4 mile setback)
•   Conservation lands (lands under easement)
•   Chesapeake Bay Resource Protection Areas (RPA)
•   Groundwater recharge spine (recharge to Columbia and Yorktown aquifers)
•   Wetlands
•   Soils (Bojac, Munden, others)
•   Proximity to existing towns (within ½ mile radius)
•   NASA launch pad buffers (20,000 and 10,000 feet)
•   Wallops Airport Accident Potential Zones
•   Existing Zoning (mapped as color layer)

In the initial analysis, each of these factors were given essentially equal or proportional
weight in terms of importance. During the course of the Planning Commission review, some
layers were examined individually, such as Bojac soils and Agricultural and Forestal
Districts, in order to consider circumstances in which one factor might overwhelm all other
considerations in terms of its importance as an opportunity or constraint to development.
The McHarg Analysis is summarized on Map 6-A.

Respecting the Past, Creating the Future: The Accomack County Comprehensive Plan                    6-8
Chapter Six: Future Land Use Plan                                                  Adopted May 14, 2008

Map 6-A

Respecting the Past, Creating the Future: The Accomack County Comprehensive Plan                    6-9
Chapter Six: Future Land Use Plan                                                  Adopted May 14, 2008

Public Input. In addition to the GIS data, consideration was given to the input received from
citizens at the public workshops in September 2006, regarding land suitability for development and
conservation. At these workshops, a total of 15 small workgroups of citizens, representing a wide
spectrum of viewpoints and geographic areas, brainstormed their ideas for the future land use pattern
in the County, looking 20 to 30 years into the future. The amount of agreement among the groups
was striking. The major themes that were broadly shared by the citizens at these meetings were:

•   Concentrate development around existing towns and villages
•   Provide for large lots (low density development) close to the water/shorelines
•   Provide for smaller lots (higher density development) close to services (towns and villages)
•   Cluster businesses on Route 13
•   Preserve wetlands, groundwater, and agriculture.

The Draft Future Land Use Map was presented at a series of four public meetings in January and
February 2007, and revisions were subsequently made based on public discussion and comments.
Ideas and issues discussed at these meetings included:
    •   Affordable Housing
    •   Economic Development
    •   NASA
    •   Subdivisions/Existing Development
    •   Apply Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act to the Seaside
    •   Need for better Stormwater Management and Erosion & Sediment Control Ordinances
    •   Zoning Districts
    •   Zoning Ordinance Review
    •   Land Use Value Tax
    •   Tax Assessment
    •   Water Quality/Shellfish
    •   Agriculture/Seafood/Forestry
    •   Wastewater Treatment
    •   PUD (Planned Unit Development)
    •   Population/Carrying Capacity of the County
    •   Sea Level Rise
    •   Alternative Energy
    •   Waterfront Protection
    •   Public Safety
    •   Public Access
    •   Conservation Areas
    •   Drainage
    •   Infrastructure: Water & Sewer, Roads, Schools, Trash, Fire & Rescue
    •   Roads/Route 13
    •   Enterprise Zone
    •   Ground Water
    •   Septage Lagoons
    •   DEQ Policies
    •   Mobile Home Parks/Substandard Housing
    •   Poverty Map

Respecting the Past, Creating the Future: The Accomack County Comprehensive Plan                   6-10
Chapter Six: Future Land Use Plan                                                  Adopted May 14, 2008

Future Land Use Plan Concept:
The following narrative is a description of the concept for Accomack County’s land use plan.
The plan is illustrated through the Accomack County Future Land Use Map. Components of the
future land use plan are based on:
•   population projections shown in Chapter 3,
•   growth and change indicators identified in the inventory section of this plan,
•   studies done by the Planning Commission in recent years,
•   input from citizens at large during the plan update process, described above,
•   the “McHarg” analysis described above, and
•   the policies set forth in Chapter Five.

It is important to note that many land areas in the County are suitable for more than one use, and
thus, “trade-offs” must be weighed and judgments made as to priorities. An example is the
conflict between the opportunity for development along the Route 13 corridor due to its good
access, and the fact that it is also generally the most important area for groundwater recharge, a
constraint to development. Another example are areas bordering the shorelines, which need to
be preserved in order to maintain water quality for local water-related businesses, yet are also
places where many people wish to live, due to the scenic quality and water access.

Overall guidelines for the future land use recommendations are generally consistent with those
of the 1997 Comprehensive Plan, and are as follows:

•   Because Accomack County has adopted Agricultural and Forestal Districts which recognize
    designated land as, “land which requires conservation and protection of food and other agricultural
    and forestal products and as such is a valuable natural and ecological resource,” land in Agricultural
    and Forestal Districts should be designated as Agricultural on the Future Land Use Map, except for
    certain areas that may be particularly suitable for other types of uses in the long-term;

•   Because most development occurring in Accomack County is dependent on septic systems for waste
    disposal and because the Health Department has identified Bojac soils as the soil type which will best
    support septic systems, areas which are not located in Agricultural and Forestal Districts and in which
    Bojac is the predominant soil type should be among those considered for future development.

•   In order to encourage development which is in character with historic and existing development patterns,
    location and density of development should be in keeping with the pattern of development around villages
    and towns and should conform to the comprehensive plans of incorporated towns where applicable.
    Similarly, land along the Route 13 and Route 175 corridors generally offers good opportunities to
    accommodate future development. However, one of the major conflicts for land use designations is the fact
    that the Route 13 corridor generally coincides with the groundwater recharge area. Thus, some trade-offs in
    priorities must be made.

•   Because of the importance and sensitivity of water resources to the County’s economy, areas
    bordering the Bayside and Seaside shorelines, areas bordering creeks, and areas of wetlands, are not
    as suitable for development as most other areas.
•   Because of the importance of groundwater to the County’s future, the groundwater recharge spine is
    an area that should also be preserved to the extent feasible.

Respecting the Past, Creating the Future: The Accomack County Comprehensive Plan                      6-11
Chapter Six: Future Land Use Plan                                                  Adopted May 14, 2008

Land Use Categories:

Land use categories were developed for the 1997 Comprehensive Plan to promote a balanced,
safe and orderly pattern of development. These categories reflect traditional land uses as well as
the goals, objectives and policies of the 1997 plan, and remain appropriate as an organizing
framework for the updated plan.

These categories are used to develop revisions and updates to the Accomack County Zoning
Ordinance and Subdivision Ordinance, and in decisions regarding rezoning and special permit
approvals. However, these categories are not intended to be an all-inclusive list of districts for
zoning ordinance revisions. Any additional categories or sub-categories that promote the stated
goals, objectives and policies of this plan may be developed and proposed.

The general location of the land use categories described below are depicted on the Future Land
Use Map. The Future Land Use Map designates the most desirable locations for various types of
future development. A good deal of development has occurred over time in areas that have been
determined to be undesirable for future development based on the criteria provided above. It is
recognized that this existing development shall continue to exist in these areas and it is not
proposed that areas currently zoned for a particular use be rezoned to a lesser use category.
However, in areas where the existing zoning or pattern of use is inconsistent with that designated
in the future land use plan, further extension of that use should be discouraged and development
in surrounding areas should be consistent with that proposed in this plan.

Conservation Areas:
The purpose of Conservation Areas is to preserve and protect Accomack County’s areas of
ecological importance on which development of any intensity would be damaging or unsafe.
Areas that should be in the conservation district include marshland and the undeveloped barrier
islands. Allowable uses in the Conservation Area would include docks and piers, duck blinds and
wildlife observation platforms constructed in accordance with the rules and regulations of the
Virginia Marine Resources Commission and the Accomack County Wetlands Board.

The County’s target outcome for the Conservation Area in the long-term is to have no new
development through regulations and conservation easements.

Agricultural Areas:
The purpose of Agricultural Areas is to provide an area for the production of agricultural and
forestry products. Regulation of this area should minimize obstructions to the efficient and
economical production of these products. Examples of the types of primary uses allowed in this
district are agricultural and horticultural uses such as raising of crops, nurseries, orchards,
vineyards, raising of livestock, forestry, poultry houses, sawmills, game preserves, and aquaculture
operations. Residential uses would include housing for property owners, family of property
owners, and those employed full-time on the property. Examples of secondary uses allowed in this
area are single-family dwellings, accessory dwellings, cluster development, seasonal farm labor
housing, public safety facilities, and other public uses.

The County’s target outcome for this area in the long-term is to have as little new non-farm
development as possible, through zoning regulations, Agricultural and Forestal Districts, cluster

Respecting the Past, Creating the Future: The Accomack County Comprehensive Plan                   6-12
Chapter Six: Future Land Use Plan                                                  Adopted May 14, 2008

development, conservation development designs, and conservation easements. The target density
for individual, developed properties in this area would be no greater than approximately one
dwelling per five to ten acres, on average, and a far lower overall density. While a five to 10-acre
density would, in theory, still exceed the ideal amount for these areas in the very long term, it
would be low enough to limit the most serious and immediate impacts of residential
development on natural resource systems, especially if carried out in a clustered pattern using
conservation design techniques.

However, even a 10-acre average density would be excessive if it occurred on every farm.
Further, at current growth rates such a level of development would not occur for several decades.
It is therefore critical that the county continually monitor the rate, location, and impact of all
rural residential development activity. The county’s number one planning objective is to “direct
development towards existing population centers”. Development patterns should be measured
against this objective on an annual basis. If the county observes a multi-year trend of increasing
rates of rural subdivisions combined with decreasing amounts of land in Agricultural and
Forestal Districts, and/or in agricultural production, it should revisit the zoning regulations for
residential development in the rural areas. Rezonings to higher intensities should not be
approved in this area.

Rural Settlement Areas:
The purpose of the Rural Settlement area is to facilitate rural residential growth complementary to
and in the vicinity of existing residential villages and hamlets that dot Accomack County’s
countryside. Examples of secondary uses allowed in this area are accessory dwellings, cluster
development, public safety facilities, and other public uses. Clustering options could be provided to
allow smaller individual lot sizes if a portion of the development site is set aside as open space.
New rural settlement areas should be located along, but not necessarily fronting, existing roads with
adequate capacity, on soils with good septic suitability, and/or adjacent to existing settlements or

The County’s target outcome for this area in the long-term is to blend new development with
existing development in clustered, rural residential development that reflects and perpetuates the
County’s existing, historic land use pattern. Cluster development and conservation development
designs are encouraged to blend with existing settlements. The target density for this area would
be approximately one dwelling per two to three acres, on average. Rezonings to higher
intensities should not be approved in this area.

Residential Areas:
The purpose of Residential Areas is to allow for new residential development in existing
communities for those who chose to live on moderately sized lots. Examples of secondary uses
allowed in this area are home occupations, public safety facilities, and other public uses. New
Residential Areas should be located adjacent to existing residential areas located outside of flood
zones that have roads with adequate capacity and soils with good septic suitability.

The County’s target outcome for Residential Areas in the long-term is to provide medium
density residential development that reflects the surrounding area. The target density for this area
would be approximately one dwelling per acre, on average. Rezonings to higher intensities
should not be approved in this area.

Respecting the Past, Creating the Future: The Accomack County Comprehensive Plan                   6-13
Chapter Six: Future Land Use Plan                                                  Adopted May 14, 2008

Village Development Areas:
The purpose of Village Development areas is to allow for a mix of residential and commercial
uses in keeping with the traditional development pattern of Accomack County’s villages and
towns (subject to wastewater treatment capability). Primary uses in Village Development Areas
would be single-family residential structures, including a range of lot sizes and densities,
churches and parks. Allowable secondary uses would include multi-family structures, small-
scale retail businesses, local offices, restaurants, professional services, schools, public safety
facilities, and other public uses. These areas should be compact, with interconnected street
networks, parks, sidewalks and a mix of uses, convenient to both motor vehicles and pedestrians.

The County’s target outcome for Village Development Areas is for the vast majority of future
residential development to be located there, and that they be the major location of future
neighborhood commercial and institutional development. Depending upon the mix of uses and
the availability of central water and wastewater treatment, overall residential densities would be
planned to be in the range of one-half to one acre per dwelling, on average, including a variety of
lot sizes and dwelling types; thus net densities may be four dwellings per acre or higher.
Rezonings to higher intensities, including Planned Unit Developments (PUD) should be
encouraged in this area, provided that the policies of this plan are met, including the features
listed above.

The Village Development Areas are designed to meet the requirements of the new state
legislation which requires the county to establish one or more “urban development areas” that
can accommodate future growth by providing “for commercial and residential densities within
urban development areas that are appropriate for reasonably compact development at a density
of at least four residential units per gross acre and a minimum floor area ratio of 0.4 per gross
acre for commercial development. The comprehensive plan shall designate one or more urban
development areas sufficient to meet projected residential and commercial growth in the locality
for an ensuing period of at least 10 but not more than 20 years, which may include phasing of
development within the urban development areas.”

Development within designated Village Development Areas should occur in a pattern that blends
with and complements the existing, traditional pattern of streets and lots within the historic areas.
This would include generally narrow streets, a mixture of lot sizes and building types, generally
narrow, deep lots, as well as walkways and on-street parking within the public right-of-way.

It is critical that new development, including the extension of central wastewater treatment
systems, be phased such that development will generally extend outward from the existing core
of existing towns and villages. As development occurs, it is also critical that all streets and
walkways be interconnected into a loose, grid pattern in order to disperse traffic, provide
multiple routes between destinations, and create a pedestrian-friendly streetscape.

In those places where a Village Development Area abuts the Route 13 corridor, it is essential
that motor vehicle access be managed so as not to impede the efficiency and safety of Route 13.
New development in such areas must keep new access points to Route 13 to an absolute
minimum, must coordinate entrances and crossings with adjacent properties, and must provide
necessary turn-lanes and any other safety measure that are appropriate to the specific site.

Respecting the Past, Creating the Future: The Accomack County Comprehensive Plan                   6-14
Chapter Six: Future Land Use Plan                                                   Adopted May 14, 2008

Commercial Areas:
The purpose of Commercial areas is to provide appropriate locations for a broad range of business
activities which may be characterized by heavy traffic, noise, or other factors that could be
considered a nuisance to residential uses. Examples of primary uses allowed in Commercial areas
would include large-scale office complexes, banks, large-scale restaurants, theaters, large-scale
retail stores, gas stations, service garages, recreational centers, warehouses and wholesale stores,
funeral homes, large hotels and motels, public safety facilities, and other public uses.
The County’s target outcome for this area is that it be the location of large scale, intensive
commercial enterprises, but that such development be clustered at key access points on Route 13 or
Route 175, with managed access, and street connections to adjacent properties. Future commercial
development must be required to provide adequate stormwater management and ground water
protection, and should be held to reasonable standards with regard to the aesthetics of site design,
architecture, landscaping, and lighting to minimize adverse impacts on the surrounding community.
Industrial Areas:
The purpose of Industrial Areas is to provide a suitable location for industrial activities with
minimized interference from or impact to adjacent land uses. Examples of allowable uses would
include light manufacturing, food preparation and processing, bottling plants, electronics production,
metal fabrication, garment manufacturing, recycling facilities, inter-modal transportation of goods,
warehousing facilities, public safety facilities, and other public uses. Industrial Areas should be
located near adequate transportation facilities, including highway, railroad, and waterway access
The County’s target outcome for this area is that it be the location of large-scale, intensive
industrial enterprises, with managed access, buffers and other regulatory controls to protect
adjacent properties, and adequate stormwater management and groundwater protection.

Amount of Land Designated:
The total amount of land designed on the Future Land Use Map for each of the land use categories
is shown in the table below. This total acreage is larger than the estimate of actual land demand,
mainly due to the designation of substantial areas as “residential” which are aimed at reducing
development pressure on the agricultural and conservation areas, and “rural settlement” areas,
which are expansions of existing rural neighborhoods. In addition, some properties within each of
the designated categories are either already developed or will not likely become developable in the
foreseeable future. The “extra” total acreage suggests that the County needs to monitor
development within the village development areas, including phasing development so it occurs as
incremental extensions outward from the existing historic cores of each village area.
                                   Acreage of Future Land Use Areas
                        Rural Settlement Area                  3,002 Acres   / 11 sites
                        Rural Settlement Area B                1,424 Acres   / 5 sites
                        Residential Area                       2,443 Acres    / 11 sites
                        Village Development Area               5,141 Acres    / 23 sites
                        Village Development Area B             1,821 Acres   / 7 sites
                        Commercial Area                          887 Acres   / 9 sites
                        Industrial Area                        1,997 Acres   / 15 sites
                        Agricultural Area                    182,243 Acres
                        Conservation Area                     69,545 Acres

Respecting the Past, Creating the Future: The Accomack County Comprehensive Plan                    6-15
Chapter Six: Future Land Use Plan                                                  Adopted May 14, 2008

Criteria for Evaluating Development Proposals to Implement the Land Use Plan:
Proposals for development, including applications to rezone property to a more intensive zoning
district, will be evaluated from the site specific viewpoint as well as from the overall viewpoint of
the entire designated Future Land Use Area.

In making decisions about any proposal for development within any particular Future Land Use
Area, the county will seek to achieve the proper balance or mix of land uses within the area,
particularly with regard to the Village Development Areas. Because the Village Development
Areas are depicted as general locations for a mix of urban uses, the county will monitor the
balance of approved uses over the course of time. Thus, the approval of a particular use at a
particular time within a Village Development Area does not mean that the same type of use will
necessarily be approved later on an adjacent site, because a key purpose of this future land use area
is to have the appropriate balance of uses and not necessarily all of one type.
Applications to rezone property will be judged in light of all of the goals, objectives, and policies
of this comprehensive plan, with the following criteria serving as primary factors. Failure to meet
any one or more of these criteria may be sufficient basis to deny a rezoning. The relative
importance given by the Board of Supervisors to each criterion will depend on the specific case,
and the purposes of zoning as set forth in §15.2-2283 will also apply.
1.    Location – the location of the proposal in relation to the Future Land Use Map designations
      (Chapter 6) and the location policies in the text of the plan (Chapter 5).
2.    Supply of zoned land – whether or not the County currently has sufficient zoning capacity
      in the appropriate locations for the proposed uses, in relation to the projected land demand
      analysis contained herein.
3.    Adjacent uses – whether the proposed uses are compatible with current and planned
      adjacent uses. (Consideration of proffered conditions to mitigate any incompatible aspects
      would also be a factor, as indicated in criterion #6).
4.    Public facility capacity – the existing and planned capacity of water, wastewater treatment,
      roads (including traffic safety as well as capacity), schools, parks, emergency services, etc. (in
      the long term, the County should establish performance standards for public service delivery).
5.    Environmental impact mitigation – whether the environmental impacts of the proposed
      uses can be adequately mitigated by the applicant.
6.    Proffered conditions – whether the conditions proffered by the applicant are sufficient to
      mitigate all of the impacts caused by the development to a reasonable degree.
7.    Overall pattern of future development in the Future Land Use Area – whether there is already
      a sufficient amount of land planned or approved for the proposed use, in which case the county
      may choose not to approve a rezoning that would add to that existing supply of zoned land.
8.    Density – the density or intensity of proposed development on the site, as well as what the
      effect would be on the density of the overall area.
9.    Land use mix – the mix of land uses on the site and what effect the proposed use would
      have on the overall land use mix in the area.

Respecting the Past, Creating the Future: The Accomack County Comprehensive Plan                   6-16
Chapter Six: Future Land Use Plan                                                  Adopted May 14, 2008

Future Land Use Maps:
The following Future Land Use Maps depict the general location of uses proposed in this

Respecting the Past, Creating the Future: The Accomack County Comprehensive Plan                   6-17
Chapter Six: Future Land Use Plan                                                  Adopted May 14, 2008

Respecting the Past, Creating the Future: The Accomack County Comprehensive Plan                   6-18
Chapter Six: Future Land Use Plan                                                  Adopted May 14, 2008

Respecting the Past, Creating the Future: The Accomack County Comprehensive Plan                   6-19
Chapter Six: Future Land Use Plan                                                  Adopted May 14, 2008

Respecting the Past, Creating the Future: The Accomack County Comprehensive Plan                   6-20
Chapter Six: Future Land Use Plan                                                  Adopted May 14, 2008

Respecting the Past, Creating the Future: The Accomack County Comprehensive Plan                   6-21
Chapter Six: Future Land Use Plan                                                  Adopted May 14, 2008

Respecting the Past, Creating the Future: The Accomack County Comprehensive Plan                   6-22

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